FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE | September 14, 2010

New American Chemical Society podcast: Big building blocks from nanoparticles

WASHINGTON, Sept. 14, 2010 — A new genre of construction materials, made with particles barely 1/50,000th the width of a human hair, is about to play a big role in the building of homes, offices, bridges, and other structures, according to the latest episode in the American Chemical Society’s (ACS) award-winning podcast series, “Global Challenges/Chemistry Solutions.”

A new Global Challenges podcast and website is highlighting both the potential benefits of these nanomaterials in improving construction materials and the need for guidelines to regulate their use and disposal. It is based on a report in the monthly journal ACS Nano.

Pedro Alvarez, Ph.D., and colleagues at Rice University in Houston, Texas, note that nanomaterials likely will have a greater impact on the construction industry than any other sector of the economy, except biomedical and electronics applications. Certain nanomaterials can improve the strength of concrete, serve as self-cleaning and self-sanitizing coatings, and provide many other construction benefits, they say. Concerns exist, however, about the potential adverse health and environmental effects of construction nanomaterials, the study adds.

This podcast is available without charge at iTunes and from ACS at www.acs.org/globalchallenges. ACS encourages educators, schools, museums, science centers, news organizations, and others to embed links to Global Challenges on their websites. Recent podcasts in the series, also available on the same site, include “smart” roofs that are energy-efficient; the origins of household dust; a urine test for pneumonia, and a more economical process for making ethanol from non-food sources.

Global Challenges/Chemistry Solutions is a series of podcasts describing some of the 21st Century’s most daunting problems, and how cutting-edge research in chemistry matters in the quest for solutions. Global Challenges is the centerpiece in an alliance on sustainability between ACS and the Royal Society of Chemistry. It includes topics such as providing a hungry, thirsty world with ample supplies of nutritious food and clean water; developing alternatives to petroleum to fuel society; preserving the environment and assuring a sustainable future for our children; and improving human health.

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Credit: Jeff Fitlow,
Rice University